If you want to be a successful, long term freelancer, consider building a business around your skills. In this article, we’ll look at 4 stages of building your business, what they are, and what happens during each one.
As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to choose the clients you work with and the type of work you engage in. But, freelancing does have some drawbacks. The biggest one is that you are trading hours for dollars. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and you can only work so many of those hours. To put it simply, you are limited in your growth with this model.
If you prefer the hours-for-dollars model, then this isn’t an issue. But, if you want to expand your reach, then it’s time to consider moving from freelancer to entrepreneur. Here are 4 stages of building your business to help you plan your strategy.
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The thought of starting and building an actual business can be intimidating. But, if you’re already a freelancer (or thinking of becoming one), you’re already on your way.
To be a freelancer, an entrepreneurial spirit is a must-have quality. It’s not easy, but I find it to be rewarding in so many ways.
I enjoy project work, meaning that I work on a variety of projects within my field (instructional design). Some of these projects are longer term, and some short, but I enjoy the variety that they offer.
That said, I know that if I ever wanted to take my freelance work to another level, I would need to move to a business model that would support that. That’s where the 4 stages of building your business come in.
Stage 1: Establishment
The establishment stage is exactly what it sounds like. You’re establishing yourself, your brand, and your business presence. Think of this stage as the foundation of the “house” that will be your business. You want that foundation to be strong and sounds, so thoughtful planning is key.
Before you implement anything during this stage, be sure start with asking yourself some basic questions like:
- What will I call my business?
- What services will I offer?
- How much will I charge?
- Where and how will I find clients? How will they find me?
- What tools will I need to run my business effectively?
At this stage, you are likely still a solopreneur and that’s okay! Remember, you’re establishing the foundation during this stage. If you don’t have an online presence yet, this is the stage to do that. Check out my post on how to start a blog to get started.
Once you’ve established your business and are up and running, it’s time to focus on the next stage.
Stage 2: Growth
With your business soundly established, you’re poised for growth. During the growth stage, you should be researching potential clients and working to develop business relationships with them.
LinkedIn is a great way to find others in your field and professionally network. It helped me land my very first freelance client, and I haven’t looked back since!
Do your homework during this stage to learn who might benefit from your services. Then, work on how you’ll present your business offerings to them. For more tips on how to do this, check out my post on selling your services with confidence.
As you gain clients during this stage (and always, for that matter!), exceed expectations. Do your best work always, and bring value to your work.
Hopefully, during this stage, you’ll find yourself with more work available than you can reasonably deliver. Know your limits, and don’t overextend. While it’s frustrating when you want to take on more work, but just can’t, this is the point where you are ready to consider moving to stage 3.
Stage 3: Expansion
This is where the business gets real, my friend! I generally think of the expansion stage as when you see the need to hire someone to help with the workload. This may be someone who helps administratively, or someone who actually does what you do as a freelancer (because you are so busy you need two of you!).
If you’ve reached this stage with your business, congratulations! It’s a major milestone! Proceed cautiously as you navigate these new waters to make sure your business continues to grow as it should.
Stage 4: Maintenance
While this stage sound like you’re just coasting, what maintenance really means is that you want to retain and maintain the business that you’ve build so far. But, it doesn’t mean that you should stop growing. Clients can come and go. It’s always important to have an eye for growth.
In the maintenance stage, be sure to keep in contact with your current clients while you continue to grow your client base. Resolve any issues that may come up, answer questions promptly, and generally provide stellar customer service. Your current happy clients can be your best advertisement!
Freelancing has been a great decision for me. It’s been professionally and personally fulfilling, and allowed me to grow my skills in a way that had never been possible before. The two tools that have been critical to my ongoing success have been my LinkedIn profile and this blog. Did you know that you can start your blog today? Yep! Just click here for my start your blog tutorial, and take your first steps toward your freelancing dream!
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